Since the birth of Hollywood, film and LA have been inextricably intertwined, and there are seemingly innumerable movies set in Los Angeles. This beautiful relationship began when the first studio opened up in 1911, situated on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street. It’s not hard to see why the industry settled in this town of perpetual sun and sandy beaches. Los Angeles has attracted everyone from hometown directors like Steven Spielberg to foreign auteurs like Nicolas Winding Refn, who desire its palm-lined boulevards and gritty cityscape to help tell their stories. Over the years, the city has doubled for New York, Ireland, and Japan, but Los Angeles is best when cast as itself.
So, get the popcorn ready for our five favourite movies set in Los Angeles. They’re sure to put you in an L.A. state of mind”¦
The Bradbury Building is cast as an abandoned apartment complex in Blade Runner © Vmiramontes
In the future, Union Station is a police headquarters, the Bradbury Building is an abandoned apartment complex, and Ennis-Brown House
is home to a retired Blade Runner. The year is 2019 and this is legendary director Ridley Scott’s vision of the future, more dystopian Los Angeles. The film is considered a sci-fi classic and lauded for its reimagining of Los Angeles’ forgotten landmarks as locations.
Where would Al Pacino and Robert De Niro grab a cup of coffee? Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat
answers that question – Kate Mantilini
. Mann uses overlooked sections of the city (think the strip malls of Koreatown and diners of Toluca Lake), to tell the story of a career criminal (De Niro) and the cop after him (Pacino). In its most heart pounding sequence, Downtown Los Angeles serves as the location of a shoot-out in the aftermath of a robbery gone wrong.
The neighbourhood of Los Feliz is a central character in Swingers © Clinton Steeds
The neighbourhood of Los Feliz is a character in its own right in the 90’s cult classic Swingers
. The film that launched Jon Favreau (who also wrote the film) and Vince Vaughn into stardom was inspired by their lives at the time. The story follows Mike (Favreau) and his fellow out-of-work actor buddies, who spend their days sleeping or playing 3-Par Golf, and living it up by night at The Dresden
and stopping by Café 101
for post-cocktail pancakes.
Everyone from Humphrey Bogard to Brad Pitt has stopped by for a drink at the Formosa Cade © Steven Damron
Looking at the neo-noir classic L.A. Confidential, you can hardly spot any traces of contemporary Los Angeles. Adapted from James Ellroy’s novel of the same name, the film sees Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger unravel the intertwined worlds of police corruption and Hollywood power. The story comes alive with the use of Los Angeles institutions that still exist today, from favourite Hollywood watering holes like the Formosa Café and Frolic Room, to the forgotten oil fields of Baldwin Hills.
The beaches of Malibu Colony at sunset © Graham
This oft-forgotten Robert Altman film sees Raymond Chandler’s favourite noir character Philip Marlowe alive in 1970s Los Angeles. Elliot Gould plays the hardboiled detective’s culture shock at the free love era to perfection. Whether it’s his yoga loving neighbours at his Hollywood Hills apartment, the famous Hightower Building, or his clients living in the artist enclave of Malibu Colony, Long Goodbye is a perfect postcard of the time.
Header photo © Nick Roth
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Consider yourself an LA cinephile? Want to recommend your favourite movies set in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Lauren Garroni